Among melting candles and evening prayers,
Among war tropheys and peaceful fires
Lived the book children, who knew no battles,
And they were aching from their trivial catastrophes.
Children are always vexed
By their age and their everyday
And we fought to scratches,
To mortal resentments.
But our mothers
Patched our clothes in time
Whereas we swallowed books,
Getting drunks on the words.
Hair sticked to our sweaty foreheads,
The phrases brought out a sweet sinking feeling in our stomachs
And out heads spun with the smell of strife
Which was rubbing off on us from the yellowing pages.
Who knew no wars,
Who took a howl
For a battle cry,
Tried to comprehend the mystery of the word "command"
Of the drawing of borders,
The meaning of attack
And the clang of war chariots.
And thereís so much food for our small brains
Inside the boiling pots of wars and commotions of old,
In our childrenís games we assigned enemies
To the roles of traitors, cowards and judasí
And we wouldnít let
The the villainís trail go cold,
And we swore love
To the fairest of ladies.
Reassuring our friends
And loving our close ones,
We put ourselves
In the roles of heroes.
Except you canít escape into daydreams for good,
Fun doesnít last long, so much pain is around us.
Try to pry open the hands of the fallen
And accept the weapon from work-weary hands.
Put it to the test,
Taking posession of a still warm sword,
And putting on the armour -
Whatís it worth? whatís it worth?
Settle whether youíre a coward
Or one chosen by fate
And get a taste
Of real strife.
And when a wounded friend will fall beside you
And you will howl in sorrow at the first loss,
And when suddenly youíll find yourself without your skin
Because he was the one who got killed and not you.
Then you will understand
That by the snarl of visors
You recognized, discerned, discovered -
It is the snarl of death,
Lies and evil,
Look how crude are their faces,
And crows and coffins
Always follow them.
If you made use Of the salty tears
Cutting the way With your fatherís sword
If in the heat of battle You found out what things are worth
Means as a child You read the right books.
If you havenít eaten one piece
of meat off of a knife,
If youíve idly
watched from above,
And if you havenít entered the struggle
against the scoundrel, the lyncher
Means that in life
you were irrelevant, irrelevant.